Information wants to be free, reporters want to be paid, Part 25

The Associated Press is getting hard-nosed about its member-produced news content being pirated. On Thursday the AP board voted to launch a high-tech program in which its text content will be monitored across the Internet.

Stories will be embedded with a sort of beacon, which will track down Web sites that post AP content without paying a licensing fee.

The AP story announcing the program quotes the cooperative’s chief executive Tom Curley as saying, “This is a pivotal step in the fight to ensure that quality journalism can be funded in the digital era. “We have stood by too long and watched other people make money off the hard work of our journalists. We have decided to draw a line in concrete.”

The AP story says the beacons should provide detailed information about how content is used and help its members who wish to charge fees for their content.

The beacons are to be embedded in text stories in November and in other content, such as photos and video, later.

Curley said some sites may try to strip out the beacon, but those sites can be tracked by using copyright-protection software.

The information-wants-to-be-free crowd immediately described the effort in the pejorative, such as Ian Paul at PC World, who said, “If a member news organization decides to join up with the AP on its voyage to nowhere, the new system will provide content owners with ‘detailed metrics on content consumption, payment services, and enforcement support.’ Not only that, but the AP says the new database will also allow members to create pay walls around their content — I guess because pay walls have worked so well in the past.”

Rich Ord at WebProNews bemoaned the AP move thusly, “From the AP’s perspective, the concept of fair use is primitive and counter to their desperate desire to prevent their demise in an ad supported Internet content economy. The Associated Press Board of Directors, which is made up mostly of newspaper executives, has issued a member call to arms against anyone and everyone who misappropriates AP content.”

Works for me.

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